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How to Write a Great Compliance Newsletter
How many times have you started writing your compliance newsletter—that you'll distribute to errrrrybody, BTW—and thought, "Man, I wish there was something that spelled out how to do this well."
Lucky for you, that's what we're covering in this post! We'll unpack four things you should consider to make your compliance newsletter something your employees will always want to read.
So let's dive in: how do you write a great compliance newsletter?
Step 1: Don't. 🙅
Think about all the information that lands in our inboxes. Every. Single. Day. How many times do we just gloss over the content without really internalizing the information? More than we care to admit, amirite?
So, before you get started on a newsletter, ask yourself this question: Will my content be valuable and important enough for people to actually stop and read it?
If the answer is “no,” you're effectively teaching folks that your emails should be ignored. And that's not the compliance brand you want. So if you don't need a newsletter, consider a different method of sharing your message. Maybe it's a screensaver rolled out to employee computers reminding folks to keep things confidential. Or an icon installed on desktops that points to your Code of Conduct. Or perhaps a control that works as a part of how your people do business.
But if your content is valuable and important enough to get folks to stop their busy day to read, here are the top four elements to consider when drafting your note:
Your newsletter copywriting is what gives it life. It’s your message, the words that appear on the digital page.
Words matter, and we know that you want to get the right ones out there! Here are a couple of tips as you start putting things together:
Organize your thoughts first. If you know what you need to say and in what order, not only will writing take less time, but you'll know how to be efficient in how you say it.
Make sure your copywriting is clear and concise—employees hate long emails, unstructured thoughts, and words that sound important but don't really convey anything.
The tone should not only align with that of your organization but also convey the importance of the topic you’re covering—and it’s safe to assume it’s important because, as we’ve established earlier, it is essential that you send this newsletter. Just make sure that it's not too corporate-y; you want to sound approachable, not like a company robot.
We’re not going to cover graphics here (although we love them!), but rather text layout: how your copy appears on the page. Why does this matter? Because how you lay out text helps your reader consume—and, more importantly, understand—your message.
Here's a great example from The Wall Street Journal. Notice that it opens with a headline that gets right to the point: this newsletter covers the intersection of diversity and business. Then, we see a paragraph introducing the newsletter, explaining what to expect, and when we’ll expect it. The image breaks up the text, and the italics indicate what the sender wants us to do.
Following the introduction, we have a list of related stories and descriptions with links to take readers to the articles they’re interested in reading. The bottom half of the email includes well-defined, uniform headers with easy-to-read text boxes.
So next time you're drafting your newsletter, ask yourself a couple of questions:
* Do you have paragraph breaks where you need them?
* Are you using lists where possible?
* Are bolds, italics and hyperlinks contributing to the visual flow of your content?
* Do you use headers?
Your newsletter isn’t a Russian novel, Ph.D. thesis, or college essay. Write in a way that makes your text visually appealing to capture a reader's attention and help them understand your message.
This element is critical.
You could have the most exciting copy and prettiest layout, but if you’re not giving your readers information that they find valuable, there’s no point in sending a newsletter in the first place.
Let’s look at another example from Really Good Emails, this time from AirBnB. There is no doubt that this email provides value—literal monetary value: Depending on governmental restrictions in various regions, renters could be entitled to refunds for upcoming trips. 💸
Of course, this is not to say that you need to provide monetary value in each newsletter. The point here is to leave your recipients thinking, “I’m glad I read that.”
Going back to AirBnB, astute readers will notice that the email doesn't expand on local restrictions—the copywriter understands that what might be relevant to one group might not apply to another. So rather than going into detail in the email, they use a call-to-action (the pink button) to guide readers to the next step. Secondary calls-to-action—the links to the extenuating circumstances policy and resource center—are also clearly labeled and hyperlinked.
Does this idea sound familiar? It should! We covered relevance in a recent blog post. (Check out item no. 4 on our guide to creating an engaging hotline poster.)
To sum up: Try to avoid sending a super generic email that's not relevant to every recipient. If your readers recognize that most of the email isn't applicable to their situation, you've effectively taught them to ignore what you send them. And that's no bueno.
Ready to start writing? Yay! Keep these four elements in mind and unleash your inner Hemingway.
But you might not want to hit the “send” button just yet. There are SO MANY other elements to a compliance newsletter that don’t fall under the “writing” umbrella. Tune in next month, when we’ll cover things like subject lines, frequency, and sender reputation.
You'll want to give a ... ahem ... darn.
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